July 9, 2005

Comments From the Left on the London Bombings

James Taranto, in yesterday's Wall Street Journal's Best of the Web, offers this commentary on various editorials from the left about the bombings in London:

So what does the New York Times have to say about yesterday's terrorist murders in London of more than 50 people at last count? Here's a quote from the paper's lead editorial of today:
That fear has already led to questions about why the British security agencies did not anticipate the attacks, why the wealthy nations have not done enough about the root causes of terrorism and why Al Qaeda and Osama bin Laden continue to function after almost four years of the so-called war on terrorism. Many will wonder why the United States is mired in Iraq while Al Qaeda's leader still roams free.

There are no easy answers to these questions.

That's right, the Times is complaining that "wealthy nations have not done enough about the root causes of terrorism"! Now granted, one can talk of the root causes of terrorism without slipping into liberal weeniedom. This column has long endorsed the theory that terrorism springs from the tyrannical and fanatical political culture that prevails in most of the Arab and Muslim worlds. The Bush administration subscribes to this theory too, which is why it has embarked upon a strategy of democratization, a key element of which was regime change in Iraq.

Do the editorialists at the Times disagree with this theory? No, apparently they are completely oblivious to it. First they complain about the failure to deal with "root causes," then they scratch their collective head over why we're "mired in Iraq."

So what does the Times think are the "root causes" of terrorism? Well, the paper addresses that question in another editorial:

As the leaders of the richest nations carry on their annual conference despite the bombings in London, they have a chance to embrace what should be an essential element of any long-term global strategy against terrorism. By adopting a coherent plan to tackle the extreme poverty of Africa, the leaders of the G-8 countries will also take on the civil wars, governmental breakdowns and illicit financial flows of one of the world's most troubled regions.

The idea that poverty in Africa contributes to terrorism is not as ridiculous as it sounds. As the Times notes:

American military forces fought what may have been their first encounter with the new international terrorism in the streets of Mogadishu, Somalia, a dozen years ago. . . . Failed states that cannot provide jobs and food for their people, that have lost chunks of territory to warlords, and that can no longer track or control their borders send an invitation to terrorists.

It's worth noting that a dozen years ago, when President Clinton decided to pull out of Somalia, a Times editorial praised this "wise stand-down." In any case, we don't disagree with the Times that misrule in Africa is a moral outrage and in some cases a security threat. But how dense do you have to be not to acknowledge that the same is true to an even greater degree in the heart of the Middle East, the place where terrorists actually come from?

At least the Times doesn't go so far as to say terrorism is America's fault. Others do. Here's columnist Derrick Z. Jackson of the Boston Globe:

The world, of course, shares the sympathies of Mayor Michael Bloomberg of New York, who said the London bombings were a ''despicable, cowardly act." Yet every invoking of the innocents also reminds us of our despicable, cowardly killing of innocent Iraqi civilians. . . .

The innocents in the so-called war on terror are always ''our" citizens or the citizens of our allies. The only innocent Iraqis are those killed by ''insurgents." Our soldiers clearly did not intend to kill innocents. But this posturing of America as the great innocent, when everyone knows we kill innocents ourselves, is likely only to make us look more like the devil in the eyes of a suicide bomber.

And here's someone with the unlikely name of Jann Wenner, on the Huffington Post:

If the London bombings are the work of an Al Qaeda offshoot, then you have to fairly say, in the same way we condemn other's [sic] terror, this is in part the result of Bush's War on Iraq.

To Jackson, there is no moral distinction between deliberately targeting civilians and accidentally killing civilians in a war of liberation. To Wenner, it is America's fault that terrorists deliberately target civilians. And note that the Times and Jackson both sneer at the "so-called war" on terrorism.

This has been a brief tour of the mindset of some American liberals. Folks, Karl Rove is not making this stuff up.

One liberal who makes sense, though, is Slate's William Saletan:

Bin Laden's whole game plan is to turn the people of the democratic world against their governments. He thinks democracies are weak because their people, who are more easily frightened than their governments, can bring those governments down. He doesn't understand that this flexibility--and this trust--are why democracies will live, while he will die. Many of us didn't vote for Bush's government or Blair's. But we're loyal to them, in part because we were given a voice in choosing them. And if we don't like our governments, we can vote them out. We can't vote out terrorists. We can only kill them.

America needs more voices like this on the left.

Cliff May offers additional analysis of the left's viewpoints:

On the BBC today one British official was quite puzzled that the terrorists would strike during the G8, a time when world leaders were addressing “poverty, inequality and injustice.”

That presupposes that the terrorists care about “poverty, inequality and injustice.” How stupid do you have to be to believe that someone who takes money from a Saudi billionaire to buy bombs cares about “poverty and inequality”? How ignorant do you have to be to believe that to Radical Islamists “justice” means anything other than infidels choking on their own blood, their civilization burning and a glorious, renewed caliphate arising from the ashes?

Similarly, a German official lamented that the G8 was about alleviating poverty in Africa and, she suggested, alleviating poverty is imperative because otherwise we have to expect more terrorism.

First, though the sub-Saharan regions are mired in poverty, there has been very little terrorism out of Africa. Most Africans do not appear to be of the view that one can murder one’s way into the middle classes.

Second, in a very real sense, the German official was legitimizing terrorism, implicitly arguing that poverty is sufficient justification for killing other people’s children.


Now go read President George W. Bush's major speeches on terrorism and the spreading of freedom - here and here.

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Greetings from England as I respond to your candid commentary in the aftermath of last Thursday's event - and thank you America for bringing your troubles to our shores.
You maybe the crusaders of the "War Against Terrorism - Episode 1" but your inexperience of this modern urban warfare highlights your naivety. Back here we are used to such incidents after decades of dealing with plastic Irish, their plastic values and their plastic explosives (something your right/left/centre governments did little about as terrorist aid was raised in the bars of Boston, Baltimore, oh...and New York).
Life will move on in London like it always has. What a lot of us cannot understand (about 50% of the population) is why we should be the victims of your despot nation's attempts to involve yourselves in global affairs - and why the ruler's of our once great nation seem intent on licking your arse for the past 50 years and getting caught up in your scrapes when it has nothing to do with us. We have now made enemies with those who we lived side by side with, with our perception of the world reduced to the insular vision of your country.
Your whole argument of things is no different to those who perpetrate these atrocities. Right, left, liberal, conservative - all conforming to your colours as if you are supporting your local football team (soccer to you) - which is what your "democracy" has been reduced to. Muslim, Catholicism, Protestantism - all the same excuse - club badge - for committing to confrontational ideals; everyone wearing blinkers to reality. Freedom and civil liberties in the West are vanishing to be replaced by "security" as a direct result of what is going on - not war but a cohesive global strategy of perpetuating the hegemonic power. G8? Riddance of third world poverty? More like the elite few looking after their own interests and stuff everybody else (including me and you). Terrorism in the Middle East? Start looking a bit closer to home because our terrorists live in England (i.e. Plastic Muslims). I ain't no liberal and I ain't no country club either.

Posted by: Giles Ludley-Smith at July 10, 2005 7:19 PM